Maryland’s top legislators will lead a bipartisan commission to begin public hearings next month on plans to draw new congressional and legislative maps for the state.
Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones said a seven-member Legislative Redistricting Advisory Commission will hold 10 in-person town hall meetings throughout the state and two online.
“The commission’s goal is to ensure that Maryland’s representation reflects its citizens,” Jones (D-Baltimore County) said in a statement Thursday, July 8. “The General Assembly will pass fair maps based on the robust public engagement and feedback of this Commission.”
It’s a process done every 10 years to reflect changes in the population, but Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has called the issue of gerrymandering, or manipulating district maps to benefit a particular group, one of the biggest problems in the state.
One reason stems from the state’s eight congressional districts with Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) representing the sole GOP member in the federal delegation.
Although his district along the Eastern Shore remains heavily conservative, former Del. Heather Mizeur seeks the Democratic nomination to challenge Harris in next year’s general election.
RepresentUs, an anti-gerrymandering group, published a report in May, calling  this year’s cycle in Maryland “extreme.”
That’s why Hogan signed an executive order in January to create an independent commission free “from legislative influence, impartial, and reasonably representative of the state’s diversity and geographical, racial and gender makeup.”
The commission has hosted town halls and will submit maps to state lawmakers. However, the legislature doesn’t have to accept the group’s map and can draw its own.
A nonprofit group called Fair Maps Maryland to insist lawmakers review and accept the Hogan commission’s maps.
As for the legislative advisory group, Jones and Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) will be on the group along with fellow Democrats Senate President Pro Tem Melony Griffith (District 25) of Upper Marlboro and House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County.
The two Republicans in the group are House Majority Leader Jason Buckel of Allegany County and Senate Majority Leader Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County.
Karl Aro, former executive director of the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services, who has 32 years of redistricting experience, will chair the commission.
“Voters in Maryland instilled their trust in this institution when they overwhelmingly supported our vision and policies in the last election,” Ferguson said in a statement. “The Commission is an essential step in the redistricting process to ensure fair representation for Maryland’s democracy. We are confident that Marylanders will participate in this democratic process robustly to make their voices heard in the coming months.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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  1. Has anyone considered the fact that Maryland’s minority population will exceed its majority population this Census? Yet only two of the eight representatives are people of color. How is it that Georgia has a more equitable map for minority representation than Maryland?

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